Trigger Warning: Emotional/Physical Abuse
Have you ever tried to make someone love you? It is a pretty exhausting business. You fall all over yourself to make them happy and it never seems to be enough. There is always a part of them that is closed off to you. You deny yourself and sacrifice your desires to keep that person happy. Soon, you can’t even remember what you used to enjoy by yourself. Your being becomes wrapped around the existence of this other person. You smile when they’re happy and frown when they’re sad. However, you’ve forgotten how to register your own emotions. You don’t even realize that the other person rarely, if ever, does the same for you. Their happiness or sadness just doesn’t depend on you.
I see three possible outcomes of this behavior and none of them end well.
One: The other person is completely oblivious to your actions. They go on about their lives while your personality and individuality is eroding away more and more each day. They register no effect. However, you’re now a shell of a person. When they eventually leave your life, you become unglued. They were literally the glue that kept your identity together and he or she vanished. You have no choice but to break.
Maybe you find something or someone to glue it all back together but you’re never the same.
Two: The object of your affection DOES notice all the sacrifices you make for him or her. But this person is unscrupulous. He or she just sees you as a servant, a way to get his or her needs met and nothing more. This person cares nothing for your needs and makes no sacrifices for you. You feel that if you just make one more sacrifice, he or she will open up their reserves of love and affection.
This often turns abusive. With you becoming a doormat that he or she can wipe their dirty, diseased feet on. They take total control and you are so ready to let go because you’ve been practicing for the months or years you’ve been pining for this person.
Either they kill you (physically, emotionally, or spiritually), or get bored of you and move on. Either way, the other person has stolen an irreplaceable part of you. You lose your trust and faith in humanity. After all, you’ve poured yourself out and have gotten nothing back.
Three: VERY, VERY rarely does it work out that the other party receives this attention with open arms and returns the affection. And what I mean is that this person went from not acknowledging your existence to loving you in one leap. And what does this person get? You’re hollowed out from trying to emulate him or her. You’ve lost parts of your personality. You’ve spent months, maybe years, warping your personality to match the other person. Your true self is not going to magically re-emerge now that you have your lover in your arms.
At first, it would probably be a very exciting experience. Your lover has someone that focuses their attention on them constantly and all your hard work has paid off. But you don’t have that spark that makes you stand out from the rest. After all, many people could do what you are doing for them. You’re just as capable as the next doormat.
It gets boring and you both drift apart. Again, your life is in pieces. It’s worse than a flat out rejection from the start. You think that if they loved you before, you can work even harder and sacrifice even more to keep them in love with you.
And it should be no surprise that we treat God the same way. We have 24/7 prayer houses.* We organize fasts and feasts. We have our traditions and rituals which read more like spells and bewitchments at times. “Maybe if we plead the blood of Jesus five more times, because five is the number of grace, this wart will finally fall off! I really feel that this is the Lord’s leading!”
*What is the idea here? Do they think breaking the 24/7 cycle will bring about the apocalypse? But, wait, don’t they WANT the apocalypse to happen so Jesus can come back? So confused. Anyway…
Religions have risen and fallen all based on the idea that if we do things just so, God will begin to love us. God will come and be with us. God will come and speak to us and teach us.
Christianity (and most religions) will never come right out and say it. I mean, we have a verse in our holy book that says, “God is love.” So, it’s not like we can come right out and claim that we need to work for God’s love. But we twist and torture our holy book to make it say the dumbest things. My mother used to tell me that interracial marriage was against the Bible. Lord knows what she would have said about gay marriage. It’s been 20 years, mom, I still haven’t found that scripture. RIP.
What’s even more amazing is that we KNOW that it doesn’t work in human relationships. We’re always telling abused partners that you can’t change your significant other. But we think God is so foreign and so alien that he’ll fall for it. We forget that he created us in his image. We are his image. He is more like us that we can ever imagine. Jesus was both fully God and fully man.
It’s not that God doesn’t love us. Far from it. However, he has never ever been impressed with our efforts to earn his love, or woo him, or turn his eye to us. He knows that we are finite beings. He knows that we can only pour ourselves out so much before we are bone dry. He also created us with an individual personality with unique gifts and talents. And it breaks his heart when he sees his children molding themselves into some cookie cutter model of a Perfect Christian ™. It saddens him when we give up our unique talents and pleasures because they don’t fit in with the current religious culture.
He also knows that the god they are molding themselves to doesn’t exist. They mold themselves for a racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and/or genocidal god. They pride themselves on being white (or the dominant ethnicity of that region) or being rich, or being straight. “Surely, god loves us more because we’re not part of ‘that’ group over there. In fact, I think god would be pleased as punch if we just eradicated them all. In fact, it’s just being kind to put them out of their misery.” I said before on this blog that evil (link) is simply the idea that God needs our help in running things. It starts out innocently enough, like a junior high crush on the star quarterback or head cheerleader. But, before you know it, there’s the Spanish Inquisition. They are not as unexpected as you may have been led to believe.